Band – Ryne Meadow
Album / Label – There Are Clouds In The Sky / Unsigned
Rating – 7/10
The journey of an album can take you down many different paths. Some are wonderfully inspirational highs, some are deep and depressing lows, and some find a way to intermix the two seamlessly.
Ryne Meadow’s voyage towards making his newest record, There Are Clouds in the Sky, took a bit of a different route. Meadow says that after releasing his debut record, A Tale Of Two Songbirds, he found himself in a bit of a rut.
“As a musician, you write some songs, and then you have some that you think are good,” he explained. “You go out, you make an album… and then what?”
Meadow had uprooted his Athens, GA country lifestyle to move to New York, with hopes of making things bigger and better in his life. He said that he wanted to get away from the problems he was seeing, and wanted a fresh chance to change the way his life was going. He tried to book a few shows in the Big Apple, but seemed to find himself on the wrong side of things.
“I’m a country boy, but in New York it’s just so big,” he exclaimed. “I really tried to make something of it, but the longer I went without success, the more depressed I became.”
We’ve all been down that road before, right? Especially from a musical standpoint, you sometimes catch lightning in a bottle and you can write for hours. Then there are the darker times, where you wonder how you ever wrote anything before, and what it might take to reignite your musical drive.
Meadow says he definitely ran into those issues before starting to make his sophomore record. More than ever, he suddenly became overwhelmed with anxiety about his life. New York just was not the place for his songbird soul.
“It ended up being 10 tracks, but there was so much cutting and pasting going on,” he mused. “There would be times where I’d get on a roll, and then suddenly I wouldn’t have anything. I found those moments both hurt and helped me in the songwriting process.”
“It honestly took a full two years to make this record,” he continued. “By now, I’m 25-years-old but I feel like I’m eighty because SO MUCH happened from 2016 to now. It feels like it was so much longer than it actually was.”
The weight of depression is something I’ve written about before, and something that I find more and more in the musicians I meet around town. In speaking with Meadow on the phone I found him to be somewhat of a kindred spirit; someone who had lived the life I live, and had found a beacon of hope in his musical abilities.
Meadow had always been interested in making music growing up. He self-taught himself to play piano in high school and started writing music with his new-found skill. He said that he always felt that he had an ear for music, he just had to do something about it.
“I just kept telling myself it’s not anything until it actually is,” he laughed.
For the upcoming record, Meadow made his base of operations a bedroom in his family’s old home, armed with his vast array of keyboards and other instruments. As a matter of fact, Meadow himself plays all of the instrumentation and programmed the drums as well.
“I knew what I wanted the record to sound like as I wrote it,” he described. “I wanted a lot of layers, a lot of atmosphere. I’m never satisfied with just one thing while making music.”
The album opens up with Not The End, a song Meadow wrote about the great divide between where he was as a younger man and where he is now. He told me that he was worried that his career was coming to an end, and that his life was going to flame out. He said that he intentionally made this the first song of the record, because he wanted everyone to know that they can get through their struggles in life.
Wandering was the last song Meadow completed for the album, and he admitted to me that it wasn’t even finished until it was time to record. He shows his clever lyrical wit in the line I’m a songbird mending a broken tweet, trying to find a better way to see.
The record’s title is borrowed from Hot Air Balloon, a song which is a heavy tune with a drowning amount of dreary piano keys. It almost feels like the song was intentionally engineered to put a trance effect on the listener. You plucked the stars from the sky to safely light the way is another brilliant lyric that will pull you out of any haze you are feeling.
The first single released from the album is titled The Mess We Made. Meadow said it was written about an old relationship and how it eventually broke down.
“I was dealing with the emotions in quiet moments, and the stillness of things falling apart. It was both of our faults, and I knew I had to do things differently in the future.”
You can certainly feel the pain in Meadow’s wail on this one. It’s honestly a song you need to listen to a few times just to pick up on how complex the guitar work is behind his voice.
Dandelion touches on hopelessness, the feeling of futility, and finding some to help you through those trials, while Wishing Well flips the table and warbles about protecting yourself and wanting better. I won’t lose myself again, too many scars of healing deep within is a line guaranteed to touch home with anyone who’s ever felt unrequited love in their life.
There’s something to be said about the simplistic tone of the record. Every song features a massive level of keyboards and pianos, and Foggy Eyes brings it all together in one tremendous four-and-a-half minute measure. Meadow explained to me that he felt his most impactful lyric on the record is found here with Pale moonlight, stars intensely shine. I’m ready to feel alive, I’m tired of waiting to die.
“I didn’t want to write that,” he confessed, “but I had to make myself write it. I couldn’t keep that locked up within me.”
If you’re not feeling this record by the time you get to Trees That Fall, you simply aren’t listening. There are so many different songwriters that I could put on a similar level to Meadow for one reason or another. His voice is unique, his piano talent is inviting, and as I have continually referenced, the man knows how to write a damned stirring line.
“I never wanted to be boring,” he acknowledged. “I wanted to be unforgettable, and I felt like if I did it in an honest enough way, people would understand.”
The Shore is a bizarre and bending song that gives you a lot of intriguing sounds to focus on, almost losing the voice and hands behind it all. The song almost felt like it was placed there to prepare you for the album’s final track, I’ll Hold On. With all of the depression and emotion hidden within the words and notes, it’s important to note that Meadow chose to bookend the album with its two most uplifting tracks, as if to remind the listener that yes, even you can make it through the darkest of your times.
There’s no doubt that this is a solid record, even if you have to sift through a lot of ponderous piano work. Sometimes it seems that Meadow spent so much time trying to perfect his craft that he overdid it musically. I had to listen to it a second time to really pick out all of the really great lyrical gems, and they alone makes it worth a fantastic rating.
When I asked Meadow how he would describe his sound, gave me a few intriguing descriptors. “Folk-pop… Americana-ish… rootsy” were the three that stuck out to me the most. He says that anything he makes going forward is definitely going to have a different sound from “There Are Clouds In The Sky” simply because he has made it through that part of his life.
“This was absolutely a necessary record to get me to the point where I am today,” he declared. “I don’t want to say that I thank depression for the direction of this album, but it gave me the direction I needed to break through.”
“I’m not looking to record anything from that deep of a pit any more. I just need to find the happy medium between the person I was and the person I am today.”
Perhaps most importantly of all, Meadow says he is ready to get back out and play a few shows again, which he knows will bring him some of the joy that he was missing while writing this record. It was definitely uplifting for me to listen through this journey and hear the spark of excitement in Meadow’s voice and he told his tale to me.
- Not the End
- Hot Air Balloon
- The Mess We’ve Made
- Wishing Well
- Foggy Eyes
- Trees That Fall
- The Shore
- I’ll Hold On
Ryne Meadow – Trees That Fall